National Sections of the L5I:

Morales must mobilise to crush the Right

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Evo Morales was a convincing winner in the recall referendum on 10 August. He won 68 per cent of the popular vote and 95 of the 112 voting districts in the country. The only places in which he didn't win are the cities of states the Media Luna, the half moon as they are called, from the shape they make on the map in the grip of the right-wing. Yet even in these states he got over 40 per cent and in two of them 50 per cent.

Yet despite winning yet another crushing mandate for his own programme of using the oil and national gas reserves of these provinces for the welfare of all Bolivians, Morales continues futile negotiations with the wealthy landed and financial oligarchs who control the cities of the Media Luna. All the thanks he got was that the right organised a one-day stoppage on 19 August, attacked progressive organisations and took more steps on the road to secession.

The leaders of the oligarchs, like Reuban Costas, governor of Santa Cruz, have whipped up their supporters with vile racism against Morales and his indigenous supporters calling them slaves and filth. Since the recall referendum on the 10 August, the right has embarked on a course of separation from Bolivia. Santa Cruz, the heart of this movement, has declared that it will vote on a new assembly, retain all taxes owed to the central government and refuse to carry out any of its decisions.

The oligarchs' youth unions, fascist white thugs, have beaten up police, firebombed offices of progressive organisations and attacked supporters in Morales' party, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS). Thugs occupy the airports whenever Morales or his ministers try to land. They have also erected blockades to cut off communication and food supplies to the highland areas.

Make no mistake - this is not a national liberation struggle of an oppressed minority but a deliberate attempt by the rich landowners to keep the wealth and natural resources of Bolivia in their greedy hands. The next three months must be used, not for campaigning for another yet another referendum which the right will ignore, but to crush the right-wing vipers nest and wrest control of the lowland territory.

How can this be done?

Morales has sent the army into the oil and gas fields to prevent them being taken over by the right-wing but this is not enough. He must mobilise the masses, arm them and crush the oligarchs - and not only enforce the nationalisation of the hydrocarbons but enact an uncompromising land law handing over the ranches of the white elite to the workers and the indigenous peasant communities.

Already the masses, understandably, are becoming impatient with Morales. An assembly held in August by the National Coalition for Change (NCC), including the El-Alto fejuve (Federation of United Neighbours), indigenous peasant groups, women's organisations, co-operative miners and micro businesses, has called for a permanent mobilisation until the new constitution is implemented.

The COB (Central Obrera Boliviana -Bolivian Workers' Center) launched a general strike during the run-up to the recall referendum, evidence of a real breakdown in relations between workers and the government. Two miners were killed in this battle over the pensions law, which actually increases the age of retirement and pays benefits to only 10 per cent of the workforce. Morales vice-president ¡lvaro Garc"a Linera accused the strikers as being ìagents of imperialism" and tools of the opposition.

The reason for the MAS's hostility to workers and its conciliatory tone to the right is because it is a popular front party, made up of different social classes that have very different interests at stake. Linera, for example, wants to build Andean capitalism: others call for a type of peasant socialism, or just want indigenous autonomy.

Morales' vacillations show the uselessness of populism based upon the middle classes, more willing to concede and even surrender to the right than to meet the demands of the workers and the rural poor, especially if it meant mobilising them to smash the right. There should be no reliance on the officer corps and the high command which despite its patriotic pledges will betray. That is why arming the workers' and peasants' militia is so crucial.

To prevent the victory of the right, the people must deal with the vacillations of the MAS. That is why the workers and their supporters among the peasants must launch their own revolutionary workers' party to fight the right and go beyond the limited reforms of the MAS to fight for socialism. Its immediate demands should be:

• Implementation of the pension law as amended by the COB

• Arm the workers and popular organisations, particularly in the Media Luna to defend themselves against the fascistic gangs

• Nationalise the oligarchs' banks, businesses and factories under the control of workers and peasants.

• Expropriate the land and distribute the large ranches and plantations to the agricultural workers and poor peasants.

• Democratic rights for rank and file soldiers, (assemblies, elected committees, election of their own officers).

• Occupy the cities and towns of the Media Luna; arrest their governors and civic committees, disarm and dissolve their reactionary youth leagues.

The massive struggles of the Bolivian people in the past decade cannot go on indefinitely without a decisive test of arms. The oligarchy has effectively declared civil war. The only thing now is to ensure that he workers and peasants win it.